Recycling Ideas

Back in 2000, then New York Gov. George E. Pataki "proposed building one of the first museums in the country to be devoted to women's history." The following year's competition for the Battery Park City site was won by Smith-Miller Hawkinson, but what interests me here is Weiss/Manfredi's runner-up design.

[Museum of Women's History | scan source]

Coming across the design in an issue of future devoted to New York City competitions, I was immediately reminded of this week's dose, Weiss/Manfredi's competition-winning design for the Barnard College Nexus now under construction.

[Barnard College Nexus | image source]

Note each design's section, which incorporates what the architects call (in the Nexus) a slipped atria. What interests me, as a practicing architect, is not so much the design of the slipped atria (which I do like) but the way the architects found a way to utilize the concept in a later project, after it failed to come to fruition years before. This is very common. Architects do not invent the wheel on each project, and they especially use competitions to explore ways of articulating space that may not arise in other commissions. This example illustrates how architects not only reuse and recycle design ideas, arising from site, program, and other concerns, but how those ideas can actually be the key ingredient in a design. To imagine the Nexus without the slipped atria is near impossible, as is (now) imagining the Nexus without the Women's History Museum.


  1. no further comment, just fond of your observation

  2. I think that as architects we carry around a great many ideas that were nixed at some point in the process of designing projects. We continue to want to find a way to see that idea utilized. Some of that is conscious and I have to figure some ideas are subconscious.


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